Khan, in his letter, is learnt to have said that Pakistan follows a policy of peaceful neighbourhood.
Reaching out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the second time since May 23, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has written a congratulatory letter in which he is learnt to have advocated working for durable peace and stability in South Asia and the peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. The letter, The Indian Express has learnt, arrived through diplomatic channels about two days ago.
Sources confirmed that Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has also written to new External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, where he congratulated him and maintained similar views as Khan. Qureshi’s letter also arrived earlier this week, said sources.
It is learnt, however, that there has been no proposal for a meeting in Bishkek in Khan’s letter to Modi. The letter follows an exchange of tweets between the two leaders after May 23 and a phone call between them on May 26.
This comes days before the two Prime Ministers are scheduled to be in the Kyrgyz Republic’s capital, Bishkek, for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit on June 13 and 14. While the MEA spokesperson maintained that no meeting is being planned or organised to the best of his knowledge, sources did not rule out the possibility of a “pull-aside” meeting between the leaders.
Khan, in his letter, is also learnt to have said that Pakistan follows a policy of peaceful neighbourhood. Sources also said that the Pakistan PM is understood to have stressed on the need to work together on the basis of “mutual respect and trust” to address challenges faced by people of both the countries, including poverty and underdevelopment.
In the letter to both Modi and Jaishankar, sources indicated that the need to advance the goals of regional peace, progress and prosperity through collective endeavours has also been underscored.
This is similar to the readouts of the phone conversation on May 26, which were made public.
In their first conversation since the NDA government was re-elected for a second term, Khan had dialled Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 26 and said that he looked forward to advancing his vision for “peace, progress and prosperity”.
In response, Modi had said that “creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism were essential” for cooperation in fostering “peace, progress and prosperity” in the region. The indication was that India would stick to its red lines on dialogue with Pakistan, where it has maintained that talks and terror cannot go together.
This was also the first conversation between the two leaders after the Pulwama terror attack in February this year, which was followed by the Balakot airstrikes and Pakistan’s retaliation.
Khan had also congratulated Modi on his electoral triumph. “I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia,” Khan had tweeted in both English and Urdu.
In fact, a day before the election results were announced, Qureshi and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj exchanged pleasantries on the sidelines of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Qureshi had then conveyed Pakistan’s desire to resolve all issues through dialogue.
Earlier this week, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood arrived in Delhi for what officials said was a three-day “private visit”. On Wednesday, Mahmood, who was the envoy to India until mid-April and whose family is still in Delhi, offered prayers at the Jama Masjid to mark Eid. He was accompanied by Acting High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah and other Pakistan diplomats. Sources said Mahmood’s family is likely to return with him to Pakistan.
In Islamabad, Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria met Pakistan President Dr Arif Alvi on the occasion of Eid, where they exchanged greetings. “Exchanged #Eid greetings with President @ArifAlvi in #Islamabad this morning. The President expressed hope for #peace in our region.@IndiainPakistan,” Bisaria tweeted.
However, not everything is going as per script. Last Saturday, guests at the Indian High Commissioner’s Iftaar party in Islamabad were harassed and intimidated by Pakistan’s security agencies, prompting Delhi to lodge a strong protest through a note verbale.
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